The Coon

Posted by David Benson on September 19, 1999 at 22:35:03:

It all started, as these things so often do, with a bath. A birdbath, to be specific. My girlfriend bought it and stuck it out on our deck. That way, when she rises with the sun every day and tackles her morning mocha, she can leave the TV off and just look out the window at all the sparrows and robins and cardinals frolicking in the lukewarm dishwater. She's like that.
We'd had the birdbath for only three or four days when it started attracting undue attention. It was long about midnight, and I was tapping away at my computer when I heard the scraping noises. I peeked out the window at the deck, and there he was. The coon. Up on his haunches, two front paws grasping the edge of the birdbath, tongue lapping away at the leftover water. I flicked on the porchlight, and the critter stopped what he was doing and peered at me over the top of the bath like Kilroy. Lowered himself down to all fours, began slinking around the deck for a bit, then decided he was still thirsty and resumed drinking. I killed the light and went back to work. Figured the coon wasn't causing any harm, and everybody has to have something to drink sometime.
The next day, when I casually mentioned to the lady of the house that we'd had a visitor last night, she reacted somewhat unfavorably. Actually, she went crackers. She's got a wildlife phobia, see, along with a natural fear of things that crawl around on her deck after hours. She declared to me in no uncertain terms that I was to dispose of this "pest" for good. And that was that.
Over the next few nights, I dutifully attempted to do what I was told and scare off the interloper. I'd rush out there at night, lunge at him, throw pop cans, make a lot of noise, and generally act like a grand buffoon. But the coon never budged a millimeter. He was either courageous, stupid, extremely thirsty, or more probably, aware of the fact that I wasn't about to harm one hair on his scruffy grey coat. He'd just sit there
and gaze at me with those sad, wary eyes, as if saying, "Give a fella a break," and keep on slurping.
Each day, as I reported my lack of success, my girlfriend got progressively edgier. She eventually procured one of those great, whooshing rifle squirt guns from her baby brother--a device I'd practically have killed for when I was a kid--and ordered me to get Niagara Falls on the coon's ass if all else failed. I didn't, of course, though there were some nights I'd walk out there with that gun and blast a massive stream into the air just because I could (bebe guns, or worse, were never resorted to, mostly because we live in an apartment complex, and a wild shot might very well zing through a neighbor's window). One night, overcome by my preadolescent urge, I fired off a supersized squirt and actually clipped the coon, who had chosen that moment to mosey around the corner towards the birdbath. He high-tailed it, naturally, and I felt terrible, but ten minutes later I heard the scraping noise again, and it was like a weight was lifted from my heart.
Yesterday, I came home from a number of errands to find the birdbath gone. When I asked my girlfriend about it, she announced that she'd given it to her mother. It was obvious, she said, that this damn coon would never have gone away, so she'd decided to chuck the whole birdbath idea if it meant she could sleep at night with the knowledge that a possibly rabid beast wasn't prowling around on her back deck. I shrugged at her and didn't say anything else about it.
Tonight I've set a bowl of water out on the deck for my friend, the coon. Hopefully he'll be by later to partake. If he does show up, this time I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut about it.

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